I’ve been to Antwerp at least ten times (it’s so close to Amsterdam!) but this city never ceases to amaze me. I always went to Antwerp in Summer, but this time I went for a weekend in December. I took the train (the most sustainable way of travelling and it’s so fast) and stayed one night. Here are my favorite things to do in this beautiful city.
On the Meir you can find lots of shops. My ultimate favorite? Jüttu, a Scandinavian shop with the most beautiful sustainable and ethical items, from home decor and skin care to jewelry and clothing. They sell brands like Rains and Matt & Nat and it’s really hard to leave the store without buying anything. If you walk a bit further, you can find the Nationalestraat with lots of designer shops (like the one from Dries van Noten) and awesome vintage stores, like Vintage per Kilo. Also worth the visit: Graanmarkt 13, a sustainable store ánd (zero waste and vegetarian) restaurant in one. Their slogan? ‘What really matters is not what you are wearing, but the people who made your wear.’ If you’re tired of shopping, have a cup of tea or a chocolate beer(!) at a typical chocolaterie. Don’t forget to choose some ‘pralines’ (chocolates) to go with your drinks.
Visit a museum
There are a lot of beautiful museums in Antwerp. My favorites? The MoMu (fashion museum), Rubens house and the MAS. The MAS has an amazing view over the city and the building is really cool to see. All the museums have varying exhibitions and if you love visiting museums, it might be worth it to score a city pass, so you can get in a lot of museums for free. Most of the museums are really impressive: both the buildings as the collections. It’s definitely worth visiting.
Enjoy the Winter in Antwerp area
When it’s winter, Antwerp turns into a true Winter Wonderland. There are cute Christmas markets near the Groenplaats and near the port. Also near the port: a big Winter in Antwerp area where you can ride the Ferris Wheel (at night or in the daytime, we did both and the view was amazing!), go tubing (let that inner kid out!), have some glühwein, have a quick meal or score cute Christmas gifts.
Go ice skating
On the Groenplaats you can find a big ice skating area where you can rent a pair of skates. I’m really not good in ice skating (and apparently, I’m too old for a helping penguin), but it was soooo much fun and really romantic to ice skate on the beautifully decorated lane.
Taste the delicious food (and typical fries!)
Antwerp is known for its ‘Fritten’ (fries!), so you can’t be in the area and not have at least one portion of fries. But there’s so much more to be found in the culinary field. Vegans can enjoy a falafel burger at Lombardia (like I did) or you get a vegetarian sandwich or bagel at Local Store 2000 which is a fun place to be with a lot of locals. We had dinner at the famous Brasserie Appelmans. There aren’t a lot of vegan/vegetarian dishes on the menu but they don’t mind making the effort and it’s really good. In the weekends, you can go for cocktails at Appelmans as well.
Antwerp is definitely worth the visit, for those of you that have never been and for the people that have been there a dozen times. I love the vibe in Antwerp, the architecture is beautiful, the food is good and it’s never boring.